The sci-fi thriller In Time (in theaters Oct. 28) envisions a futuristic society in which humans are genetically engineered to stop aging at 25 and can theoretically live forever. As a result, the film sports what many Hollywood executives would consider a dream cast — one in which every character, no matter his or her actual age, is played by a gorgeous young actor or actress. The movie’s conceit also presented some peculiar challenges for the cast. For instance, Justin Timberlake, 30, who plays a murder suspect named Will, had to imagine the 27-year-old Olivia Wilde as his character’s 50-year-old mother, Rachel.
“We laughed about it when we first saw each other,” recalls Timberlake. “First of all, Olivia is three years younger than me!” Nonetheless, the two actors had to find a way to convince the audience that Rachel had been Will’s mom for the past 20 or so years. During the rehearsal process, Timberlake often found himself talking to Wilde about his own mother. “We’d read the script and I would say, ‘Here’s something my mom might do,’ or ‘Here’s the way my mom might say it,'” says Timberlake. “I think she really looked to me to give her those little things because she had the trickier job in our scenes. But she’s obviously a great actor. When you meet both of [our characters], it’s visually jolting, but within seconds you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, that is his mother.'”
For many of the film’s characters, director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) sought out young actors who could believably portray someone who’s much older — while still looking 25. “I went on a search for these old souls,” says Niccol. “Even for a small role like a priest, where you typically cast a worn-out 75-year-old character actor, I now had to find a worn-out 75-year-old character actor in a 25-year-old body.” For Niccol, it was easy to see Wilde as a middle-aged maternal figure. “She just inhabited the role,” says the director. “Olivia has something about her — a maturity that’s way beyond her years.”